What matters

In the world of voiceover, does it matter what you look like? Most people would agree with me that it matters not at all. Does it matter what you sound like? Now there’s a horse of a different color, as the old saying goes. (Bunny trail: I’ve always loved that “horse of a different color” in the Wizard of Oz. Don’t know why, but it always makes me smile.)

Let’s think about this for a moment. Does it matter what you sound like? Well, sometimes the answer is “yes”. For example, if you audition for voiceover job and the sound of your voice doesn’t match with what the people making the casting decision want, then you don’t get the job. Another example, if the client is looking for a baritone male and you have a female soprano voice, again, you don’t get the job.

Turn this question around a little differently. Is there a sound to a voice that prevents someone from getting voiceover work? Yes, if you can’t read out loud well, you’re not going to get much voiceover work. Of course, technically that’s not the sound of the voice that’s in question in this case. But, I think it’s close enough. Or if you have a strong regional accent and you can’t shift your sound out of that regional accent, you may get some work specifically for that region; but you’ll have a very tough row to hoe.

What about this alternate question: Is there a vocal sound that will guarantee success in voiceover? NO! There isn’t. Many people believe that to be successful one must possess a voice that is beautiful and smooth and clear or some other batch of characteristics. But you know what? That’s simply not true. People with all kinds of voices do really well in voiceover. And lots of people with really beautiful voices don’t do well.

In the end, the question isn’t what kind of voice you have; it’s what do you do with the instrument you have and the story that’s in front of you? Do you tell that story well? Do you have a recording environment that’s clean sounding and quiet? Do you deliver your work on time? Do you stay in touch with the people who hire you, while not making a pest of yourself? Chances are, you are going to do OK or maybe better than OK.

But, if you waste time wondering if you have the kind of voice you need? This isn’t going to be a productive use of your time at all.

4 Comments

  1. I enjoyed reading that piece very much, thank you for taking the time to write it.

    Comment by Philip Banks — June 10, 2011 @ 2:43 am

  2. Nice post Bob! The job of “voice over talent” has a subtitle. That subtitle is… COMMUNICATOR. Everything else is secondary.

    Dan Friedman
    http://www.sound4vo.com
    http://www.procommvoices.com

    Comment by Dan Friedman — June 10, 2011 @ 7:14 am

  3. +1 for Mr. Banks. I appreciate the insights you share on your blog and the forum. This was a timely word for me, and I find encouragement in it as I aspire to work as a voiceoverist someday (maybe by Faffcon 43? :-). Peace.

    Comment by R, Scott Lyle — June 11, 2011 @ 9:25 am

  4. Thanks, Bob. I really needed to hear/read this after some recent challenges. I don’t know how you knew that, but there you are. 🙂

    Comment by Michael Rankins — June 13, 2011 @ 1:30 am

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